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‘The biggest barrier to innovation of supply chain is businesses becoming too complacent with the status quo’

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Joseph Lim, Sales Director APAC, BluJay Solutions, speaks on how vital it is to transform pharma industry’s supply chain systems through value-driven solutions and automation for the industry’s progress, and his company’s offerings as a logistics and supply chain tech solutions provider, in an exclusive interaction with Lakshmipriya Nair

Why is automation the need of the hour in logistics and supply chain systems?
Consumers have come to expect fast, convenient and inexpensive service and delivery options from pharma companies. Add to this, increased global competition from the likes of Amazon and Alibaba and the skills shortage, and supply chains must operate at a scale that can only be achieved with the right technology and automation.

What are the benefits that life sciences companies with minimal supply chain savvy may be overlooking?
Life sciences companies operate in a tough environment, so much so that they spend billions on research to create life-saving and life-changing drugs and other items. Supply chain managers in the pharma industry have to take many factors into consideration to ensure these products are delivered to the consumer at the right time, in the appropriate condition. Factors such as expiration dates, lot tracking, government regulations and temperature-controlled transportation, along with fluctuating demand and the constant need for granular visibility, make this job difficult. Managing so many moving parts simply is not possible without some level of automation, whether it be a control tower that automates work-flows and processes, or automated process and robots in a warehouse setting.

As a logistics and supply chain tech solutions company, how are you different from your counterparts? What are the three major differentiators that you have brought to the table?
BluJay’s key point of difference is our Global Trade Network (GTN). Supply chains are becoming more global and more mobile. Our GTN helps customers easily adapt to the complexities of global trade.

1. The GTN allows for real-time visibility while optimising the global movement of pharma companies’ products. It provides insight to ensure supply chains are transparent and synchronised. This includes visibility from point of origin through customs, inbound and outbound transportation all the way to the customer’s door.

2. A core component of the GTN, Control Tower, provides transparency and synchronisation across an organisation’s supply chain and supports work-flow between partners.

3. BluJay unlocks the power of more than 40,000 universally connected partners so companies can achieve greater trade velocity and transform their supply chain economics for disruptive advantage.

How have you expanded your capabilities for the healthcare and pharma sectors? What are the key changes you have introduced and how would it be beneficial in the Indian context?
The Indian pharma industry continues to expand. After growing by 22 per cent in the past decade, Indian exports are expected to capture six to seven per cent of the $760 billion global generics market by 2020. Growth for India’s pharma industry hinges on improving physical capacity, organisational capacity and process capabilities. From a supply chain perspective, the use of automation and technology will be the key. Supply chain maturity needs to evolve and compliance processes need to be enhanced across the value chain. BluJay’s transportation management services enhance planning and shipment visibility to meet pharma and medical industry regulations. It gives logistics and customer service teams a single source for shipment status, with proactive knowledge of expectations, including matching appointment with the expected delivery date, confirming deliveries and quickly reconciling any order that is over, short or damaged. Track and trace capabilities for cross-docks, temperature requirements and transport visibility and reporting for medical and pharma products in real-time, to meet regulatory requirements, is crucial. With BluJay’s solutions, data is logged at the load planning level for the carrier, which is available for report from the single system. On-time delivery is essential in a successful retail and healthcare demand chain where dock space is at a premium. The penalties for not meeting scheduled delivery appointments create strained relationships, poor performance reports and result in significant charge-backs for high-value products, such as pharma products. By using the right tools, staff can feel empowered through having supply chain visibility.

What are the most-daunting barriers within the pharma supply chain that you could help surmount?
It sounds simple, but the biggest barrier to innovation of supply chain that we see is businesses becoming too complacent with the status quo. Many in the industry take an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude toward supply chain management and are missing out on opportunities to improve customer experience and increase business efficiency, ultimately affecting these businesses’ bottom lines.

Some of the barriers we see time and time again are:

  • Silos between systems and processes
  • Outdated IT systems
  • Lack of flexibility and innovation of supply chain partners
  • Change management hurdles

Which technologies are transforming supply chains? How are they helping to build new digital logistics models to bring in new efficiencies and improved customer experience?
The technologies transforming supply chains are not what most people think. Despite the hype around emerging technologies like block chain, drones and driver-less trucks, organisations still need to get the basics right by putting customers at the centre of their supply chains. To aid with this, market-leading pharma companies are investing in mobile devices and apps, control tower visibility, warehouse automation and robots to create a competitive advantage. In general, these technologies are further along the maturity curve than block chain, drones and driver-less trucks and have more established records of delivering benefits—both to the business and end consumer. At the end of the day, it is the technology powering seamless supply chain execution that delivers efficiency, lower cost, and a better customer experience. We are also seeing the power of data in helping companies transform their supply chains. Analytics tools or services that can identify opportunities for cost and time savings based on real data, compared to best practices in the network and/or market benchmarks, provide the kind of actionable data that can transform supply chains.

Can you give us details about your presence in India and what are your plans for this country?
We are a global company and have a strong presence in India, with a deep expertise and knowledge base in the country. One of BluJay’s largest offices in the world is located in Hyderabad, with more than 280 employees. India is an important region for us, and we will continue to invest resources and expand our presence in the market.

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